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Is That Real Whiskey?



St. Andrews in Scotland is famous for many things. It is the home of golf. It is also famous for being home to the university where Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton met for the first time as students. Now, scientists at the university have developed a small device that shows whether whiskey is real. One of the scientists - Praveen Ashok - places a drop of whiskey on the glass. Laser light shines through the drop and a computer sensor says immediately whether it recognizes the liquid. This one is real. But when you add water, the computer warns that it is not the real thing. Manufacturing whiskey is a big business. The famous brand names are costly to buy. Campbell Evans is with the Scotch Whiskey Association.

CAMPBELL EVANS: "Scotch whiskey can only be made in Scotland and it's vitally important we protect the industry, so we don't find fakes appearing around the world. Because somebody buys a fake product and doesn't like it, they may never buy the genuine article ever again. We have five in-house lawyers whose job is to stop anybody who puts brown liquid in a bottle and pretends it's whiskey when it's not. And we can have up to 70 court cases on the go at any one time." Kishan Dholakia of St. Andrews University says the new device could even save lives.

KISHAN DHOLAKIA: "We think it's a real public safety and health concern. You know, people lose their lives. For example in India, many people lose their lives because people tamper with alcoholic drinks and toxicology and they add, make additives that basically have, I think, resulted in peoples' deaths." The main issue now for the inventors is to find a factory to make the device. I'm Jim Tedder.